Rochester hardcore outfit H8 Machine is a study in balance, as it straddles speed and weight perfectly. Call it muscle, call it dexterity, call it brutally beautiful. H8 Machine came to be in 1995 and rapidly rose to the top of the local scene's heavy heap with its riff-centric, concussion-rendering music, and shows where the band looked like a pinball machine after you hit multi-ball.
In late 1998, the band took a detour on the advisement of management, changing its name to Omniblank and polishing its sound a bit. Things started to happen for the band — national airplay, label showcases, etc. — but inevitably it didn't pan out. Regardless, the band has no regrets, no apologies.
It's 2012 and H8 Machine is back with a new EP, "The Movement" — its first as H8 Machine since 1998 — which finds the band's members (Jeremy Seaver, Al Dettori, Jamien Weissenger, John Murch, and Donny Weisseninger) right where they belong, playing its heavy, fast, relentless music from their guts to yours. The band's mouthpiece, Dettori stopped by for a beer and to chat about riffs, regrets, and annihilation. An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
CITY: Explain the whole H8 Machine/Omniblank change-up?
Al Dettori: They convinced us to change our name. There was Pretty Hate Machine out there; there was Machine Head, Rage Against The Machine. We had a song called "Omniblank" and we figured anyone who was a H8 Machine fan, they would figure it out.
How did your fans react?
Initially we lost a few fans, because the music was a little different from H8 Machine.
Did they consider it selling out?
We were just trying to fit into the mainstream our way. So it was heavy, but we still had to play the game, just like all the other bands.
Do you regret that move now?
No, it was fun while it lasted. But our hearts were more into hardcore metal.
Was switching back to H8 Machine smooth?
When we came back and decided to have a reunion it was like we hadn't skipped a beat, it felt real natural. It wasn't forced. We came back to our roots. That's what got us there. Omniblank took us to a different level, and we appreciate Omniblank and everything it was. But we wouldn't have gotten there without H8 Machine. H8 machine was the motor that got everything going.
How does H8 Machine create?
I'm a riff guy. I could throw a hundred riffs at you. If you get a song out of it, good. If not we only wasted three hours of our lives. I just have fun doing it.
Why an EP this time?
A lot of people were asking about new material and we were playing it live, so we rushed into the studio, did an EP to keep them busy and off our backs a little bit. Keep 'em chewing on something.
What's the goal with "The Movement"?
Just giving back to our... I don't like to call them fans. Friends.
Does the band feel renewed?
It's always been about power and release. You need a release
The band or the audience?
Both. Life is frustrating. I'm a laid-back guy, but everybody thinks differently because on stage I go absolutely crazy. I get everything out and I leave it there. And if people want to come to the show and slam around while listening to the music they can get their life's frustrations out.
Going to hit the road at all?
We'd like to revisit hot spots in New York and New England, but it's got to be worth it. We've all got families and kids now.
What has kept the band going?
We're doing it because we feel we still can do it. We still do it and do it better than a lot of bands out there. That's not to sound cocky. It's confidence. My biggest pet peeve is when I used to listen to CDs as a kid, I'd have this vision of what the band should look like, and when I'd actually go and see them they would just stand there. You've got to entertain the crowd, don't just sit there.
And that's certainly what H8 Machine does.
Our goal is to annihilate anyone that comes in our way. It's the same attitude we had before. Of course, we're not jerks or anything. But when we're up there, it's our stage.
The band is the pistol-packin' ruler of Western swing and all the genres that lead up to it.